Bachelor's degree in Programming

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Okay, I have been thinking this through for months now and I'm finally coming down to asking the Cplusplus community. I am currently enrolled at Southwestern Michigan College for an associates degree in information technology/Application Development. I've been wanting to go to Full Sail University for years now for a Bachelor's degree in Game Development but I also have been looking into Davenport University in Grand Rapids Michigan for a Programming bachelor's degree.

My question is which degree is more credible? I know Full Sail has many connections with the game industries, but what are the industries looking for? A person with a general Programming degree or someone who has a job-specific degree.

I want to get my foot in the door with the Gaming Industry but also I don't want to be limited by a job-specific degree.

I have been pulling my hair out thinking about it so any advice will be appreciated.
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I've heard it's best to get a Master's Degree, but I'm not sure.
I've heard bad stories about people going that route. If I were you, I'd go the CS route and just work on games on the side. The CS degree will open up most doors in the field, and the actual game Dev experience will look much better than a specific degree like that.

We have a member on this forum who went to devry I believe for this and now can't find anything. Nobody wants it, they want CS degrees with experience on the side.
What a CS won't teach as much is the maths side. Games degrees are a funny thing. A good one is hard to find. There should be a good chunk of maths on any decent games degree.

The one games job I went for had a maths exam as part on the recruitment process.

In any case, the industry is tough enough as it is. I would encourage a good games degree, but much like Resident says, make stuff on the side too. Your strongest asset is your portfolio.
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Go the CS way, most AAA companies won't look twice at a game development degree, and consider them way easier and worth much less then a normal CS degree.

Also your best bet is to have a nice good portfolio with multiple completed games in it, to get in the door in the industry as a programmer. Expect to start small though and have to work your way up.
Say what you want about a degree, it's the portfolio that counts.
closed account (3qX21hU5)
Depends NGen, almost any company uses a degree to thin the crowd or however you want to say it. They get so many applicants that they aren't going to have time to go through your portfolio and scan your code to see if you know what your doing.

Its sad to say but you could be better then any programmer in that company, but if you don't have a degree or know someone on the inside you most likely won't stand a chance at getting in.

Just the way the world works, might not be right but gotta deal with it =/
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Zereo wrote:
Go the CS way, most AAA companies won't look twice at a game development degree

Strongly disagree with this. Games graduates from my university have ended up at a few big names, including Ubisoft, Codemasters and Rockstar.
closed account (3qX21hU5)
You probably are right. I'm just going off what I have heard from fellow programmers I talk to and read on forums and the internet, haven't had the money yet to get myself a degree but I'm getting there.

But I still stand by the CS Degree since even if you have a shot of getting into a game company you are still closing a lot of doors that you would have had with a regular CS Degree.
Ironically, my degree specialises in games yet I work as a programmer in a non games related field. :-)

Generally, a degree in some form of computer science or software engineering is required. If you check the Gamasutra boards, they almost always state a CS/SE degree. I'm unsure as to whether games helps a lot, but I doubt it hinders.

Past that, they're always looking for a strong portfolio. That's the most important thing past the degree. They need to know that you can write efficient and robust code and that you can see projects through. The latter is one of the most difficult, in my opinion. I'm always coding one thing then moving onto another before it's finished.

One consideration, OP. The games industry is extremely volatile. Its economy is crazy and big studios with talented developers still find themselves facing closure. The wages don't seem to be great, either. Personally, I'd consider games a pretty difficult area of programming. The salaries do not reflect this.
But a lot of would be love to just be able to work on a AAA game, and maybe someday be a head designer and go to cool press conferences and events and what not (I'm one of those people :p). I've actually read that this is a reason that Blizzard pays their devs less than average, because they get to work for them.

I would love to work in a AAA studio for one game (2-3 years) and then move on to a more stabile industry.
Honestly, the devs I've talked to always told me you don't need a degree just show you can do what is needed in game programming and can use the tools used. Though having a degree can't hurt. Jason Rubin, formerly of NaughtyDog, told me that most of the team that made the Crash games only had high school diplomas and admitted that some he thought had their GEDs. If you want to get started without a degree, just go indie and make your own game. Hell the portal team was a team that was made up of guys who were hired because they game (that portal was based off of) had something original in it.
Oh I totally agree. The degree doesn't really mean much (other than you can finish 4 years of mostly BS). It all boils down to what you can do, but HR doesn't care about that, sadly. Most companies anymore you won't get through the door without a degree unless you go through less conventional methods (maybe you impress the right person somewhere).
That is why networking is now one of the most important things. I talk to other indie devs and guys in the industry. I even carry on conversations with some through their facebook accounts and twitter accounts (per my career advisor's recommendation).
closed account (3qX21hU5)
Totally right, if you can at least get on a first named basis with someone in the company that can pull some strings you don't need to necessarily have a degree as long as you can prove you have the skills. But usually that doesn't happen to everyone. Imagine what they would say if you walked up to any of the AAA game companies and said "Hey I don't have a degree or anything, but I'm amazing at programming and I have my portfolio here if you want to look over hundreds of lines of code so I can prove it to you". Well obviously you wouldn't say them exact words but even then I bet 80 times out a 100 they wouldn't give you the chance. If you can afford it get a degree it can't hurt and definitely opens way more doors for you.
Deciding that you want to work for game industry is already limiting yourself.
The whole game industry is very, very tiny compared to the rest of the IT market. It is also a stabilized market (possibly declining), while there are a few other sectors of IT that are currently booming (e.g. big data). So, from the investor's perspective, it is not worth investing your precious time in game market. It will be also much more hard to find a job there - they simply don't need much more people than they have now.
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. On a side note the degree at davenport is primarily a Programming degree also davenport has a game Programming degree. I've decided after reading everyone's opinion and reading other CS vs GD articles, I am going to go for a bachelor's degree in programming. I will major in CS and minor in game programming.
I've been told that if the degree has simulation or AI development, it can be used in many applications, such as creating simulators for government agencies, like flight simulators or simulators for war zones, which is where the AI comes in, and other things like these.
AI for games and real world AI are worlds apart.
Well actually the computer gaming and simulation degree there does have ai courses. I think I would benefit more from this school than Full Sail's game development degree. Davenport has more classes to offer.
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